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PA municipal chief accused of stealing water

July 21, 2010 2:02 P.M. (Updated: July 21, 2010 9:44 P.M.)
Hebron - Ma'an - Palestinian Authority forces detained the head of the Tarqumiya Municipality on Wednesday on allegations that he and other Hebron officials failed to commit to the Water Authority's standards on infrastructure and water theft.

Mohammad Al-Ja'freh and several others including employees of nearby municipalities and owners of illegal water extensions on the Hebron district were detained and taken for questioning.

Water Authority chief Shadad Al-A'tili told Ma'an that "each head of a local body and village council must guarantee that they will not manipulate manholes and tabs. Those who interfere with water issues should not be allowed to steal water in their areas."

A complaint was filed against Al-Ja'freh by the Water Authority accusing him of breaking water tabs, deputy Tarqumiya mayor Yousef Ad-Dababsah said.

Dura Municipality sources said the chief of the joint-service council in the area Walid Abu Sharar was also detained and remains in custody, after a complaint was filed with PA forces alleging that employees also broke water tabs in the area on Tuesday.

Al-A'tili said several meetings were held across the Hebron district to end a water crisis and to end theft in the region.

"The campaign to restore water security is ongoing in all parts of the West Bank. The Water Authority will file complaints to the general attorney against those violating order and to guarantee the protection of water facilities from violation."

Civil Administration destroys pipe in Hebron

On Tuesday, a pro-Palestinian activist group said Israeli border police and hired laborers carried out demolitions in a farming area north of Hebron, destroying a cistern and removed irrigation pipes from 1.5 acres of farmland.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams said the demolitions were carried out in the Al-Baqa'a valley in northern Hebron, adding that it was the third such incident in 12 days.

In response to a Ma'an inquiry, Israel's Civil Administration, which carried out the demolition, said an illegal pipe had been installed in the area "[leading to the] theft of hundreds of thousands of liters of water, disrupting the water supply to residents."
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